In my travels on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I occasionally see an exit for Hope Road in Centreville, off of Route 301N. I have never taken it, but I have often wondered where the road goes, and why it is named Hope. If ever there was a time we need to drive down Hope Road, it is right now.
To say that 2020 was a challenging year is an understatement. COVID, racial relations in our country, politics, the Presidential election, and an insurrection at the United States Capitol in the early days of 2021, have all weighed heavily upon our minds and hearts, and we all long for normalcy to return to our daily lives. Sadly, I have forgotten what that looks and feels like. Yet, as a school leader, I need to remain hopeful and optimistic.
Hope is an optimistic state of mind, based upon an expectation of positive outcomes of events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world. Research shows that hope has an impact on emotional wellbeing, and one’s level of hope can predict future anxiety and depression.
This has been a year of intense learning, adapting, creating, executing, and hoping to implement a plan to safely open our school in the midst of a global pandemic. I am proud of my school and our efforts to remain open. We have successfully completed 16 weeks of in-person instruction. Yet, I am worried that I have not been able to focus my attention on long term strategies in many months. Operations has forced my hand, and I have had to be far more involved in creating a COVID-responsive school than advancing my non-COVID school.
I have a headache most days as I feel the strain of keeping our students and employees safe at school. Thank goodness for River, the Kent School dog, who turned one on January 3. River fills me with hope, and keeps me calm – except when he ruins another couch pillow. River also helps me get exercise and reflect outdoors, something I have really grown to love. While we got River as a puppy before we had even heard of COVID, he was an unexpected joy in the months of the Maryland stay-at-home order, and he has been a great addition to the student body at Kent School this academic year. The students love him and they need him. He is in constant demand as a member of each class’ gym routine. River is our hope. A wag of his tail or a dog kiss can certainly make your day.
I have found in the past year that we must treasure simple pleasures and kindnesses. We had a surprise visit on our porch on New Year’s Eve from some new neighbors dropping by with a bottle of spirits to help us ring in the new year. They made our quiet celebration for two something a little warmer and happier. We all need more humanity in our lives, more warmth, more happiness, and more hope.
This week a new President and an historic female Vice-President will take the oath of office in what I hope is a visible peaceful and majestic symbol to the world of our great American democracy. To me, it signals hope for a brighter 2021 and hope for a brighter future for humans of differing opinions in our country and our diverse world.
As for me, I am going for a drive. You can find me on Hope Road.